Espresso vs Americano: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: by: Amanda T

espresso vs americano

Both espressos and Americanos are drinks made with espresso, typically served hot. One has a more concentrated coffee flavor and the other one has more flexibility for the consumer. The differences between the two drinks are minimal but still evident.

What is espresso?

Espresso is straight coffee concentrate, usually enjoyed with nothing added. It has a full, strong coffee flavor and is known for its intensity. A shot of espresso is, on average, 2 oz. Some people prefer more espresso and drink a doppio (double shot) or even a triple shot. There are three parts to an espresso shot: the “body” is the darker bottom, the “heart” is the lighter middle, and the foamy light-colored head on top is known as the “crema.” The air bubbles in the crema give espresso its aftertaste.

coffee espresso

What is an Americano?

Americano is espresso shots combined with hot water. This gives a less concentrated flavor and can dissipate some of the bitterness straight espressos can have. It has more liquid, so it’s better to sip on than espresso. The smallest size normally served at coffee shops for Americanos is an 8 oz, while the largest is usually 20 oz.

a cup of americano

Caffeine level

Espressos and Americanos usually have the same amount of caffeine. In other words, they have the same amount of espresso. Drinking a single shot will be the same as a single Americano, a doppio will have the same amount of caffeine as a doppio Americano, and so on. Coffee shops usually serve Americanos with two or more shots, depending on the size of the beverage.


Americanos are easier to customize for flavor than espressos. Americanos can have cream or milk added, as well as flavors like caramel or cinnamon. Americanos also come in the iced variety, offering a cool refreshing choice for a hot day. The flexibility it offers a consumer can also make a big difference when choosing between espresso or Americano.

RELATED GUIDES: what’s our favorite espresso machine of 2019? We compared dozens of models

Final Verdict

Americanos and espressos are pretty similar, the only difference being the hot water added to an Americano. This changes the taste and the quantity of the drink, with the addition of hot water making Americanos larger. The taste is less intense and somewhat smoother with an Americano. They usually have the same amount of caffeine if the amount of espresso is equal. If you have tried an Americano, but want a more intense flavor try an espresso. If you drink espresso but want a drink that lasts longer than straight espresso or with a variation like milk, flavor, or ice, try an Americano.

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